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Saturday, May 5, 2012

2010 Rhannon Red Wine

Steve Rued, the Director of Winemaking at Ruherford Wine Company, has created another easy drinking, comfortable and very flavorful wine with the 2010 Rhiannon.  Wildly red in the glass, this wine that can be described as bright both in visual and palatable terms, blends Syrah, Zinfandel and Barbera and shows off aromas of very ripe berries and cherry with just a smattering of pencil lead.  Extremely smooth and medium bodied, this wine bursts of red cherry and raspberry flavors initially but with swirling you can pick up light amounts of a peppery spice and very juicy blackberry.  The Syrah and Zinfandel are going head to head with this one, and both compliment each other very well.  At around $15 per bottle you can't go wrong here at all.

ABV:  13.5%
Appellation:  California

Cases Produced:  15,000
Retail Price:  $14.99
Score:  89

2008 Dry Creek Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

The 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon from Dry Creek Vineyard displays an intriguing reddish purple color and aromas of raspberry, floral boquet, anise, tanned leather and black cherry.  This wine is a blend of 79% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot, 4% Malbec, 3% Petit Verdot and 2% Cabernet Franc.  The grapes compliment each other wonderfully, providing a wine that is distinguished by its velvet-like tannis and very long finish.  The flavor profile of black cherry, red raspberry, chocolate, earth and spice box is framed by a nice medium to heavyweight feel and a mild toasted oak savoriness.

ABV:  14.4%
AVA:  Dry Creek Valley

Retail Price:  $25.00
Score:  92

2010 Ritual Pinot Noir

Created by Veramonte, this 100% Pinot Noir from Chile is a bright red wine with aromas of strawberry, cherry tobacco, sweet spices and plum.  The medium body and juicy tannins are complimented by flavors of plum, cherry, raspberry and toast, creating a well rounded and interesting wine that is a bargain at this price.  This wine will pair wonderfully with a wide variety of food including pork loin, rack of lamb and vegetarian fare.

About Veramonte:
Veramonte creates this wine from the Casablance Valley of Chile, known for a unique terroir for Pinot Noir.  This Pinot Noir is created from specific selections of the 50 acres of Pinot Noir from the Veramonte Vineyard.  Vintner Agustin Huneeus and consulting winemaker Paul Hobbs are responsible for this successful and delicious wine.

ABV:  14.0%
Appellation:  Casablanca Valley, Chile
Retail Price:  $20.00
Score:  90

2006 Murphy-Goode All In Claret

The 2006 Claret is a blend of three Bordeaux varietals - 61% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot and 14% Petit Verdot.  These grapes make up some of my favorite wines and to have all three represented in one bottle is something special to me.  This medium red wine offers generous aromas of blackberry, cherry, vanilla, cedar, tobacco leaf and tea.  The flavor profile consists of cherry candy, blackberry, warm vanilla custard, spices and olives.  Well rounded and full of rich flavors and hang for mintes after the sip. 

ABV:  14.8%
AVA:  Alexander Valley

Cases Produced:  1,017
Retail Price:  $24.00
Score:  90

2008 Murphy-Goode Dealer's Choice Cabernet Sauvignon

This 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from the Alexander Valley is a single vineyard Cab that spent over 2 years in Oak before resting in the bottle.  The wine is a dark red beauty with filling aromas of blackberry, sage, vanilla and just a small hint of pepper.  Nice heavy weight on the palate and rich flavors of blackberry, black cherry and a steady blend of toasted oak bring this wine together for a nice long finish.  Hard to find a single vineyard 100% Cabernet at this price, so this is one that should be on your shopping list.

ABV:  14.9%
AVA:  Alexander Valley
Cases Produced:  2,531
Retail Price:  $26.00
Score:  91

2009 Murphy-Goode Liar's Dice Zinfandel

This is my first experience with wines from Murphy-Goode Winery and I couldn't be more pleased.  This 2009 Zinfandel is sourced from 4 vineyards in Sonoma County, comprised of 98% Zinfandel and 2% Carignane.  The color of this wine is a cherry red that encompasses aromas of black and red berries, black cherry and a small amount of spice.  In the mouth you get a nice medium weight wine that showcases the aforementioned fruits and brings with it licorice and just a touch of peppery goodness.  The tannins are very juicy and this wine is a great accompaniment to barbeque ribs.  Very fair pricepoint and readily available.

About Murphy-Goode Winery
This Healdsburg, CA winery was founded by David Ready, Tim Murphy and Dale Goode.  Their poker inspired theme wines are a showcase of Sonoma County wines that are often smaller production from their favorite vineyards in the area.  The winemaker is David Ready Jr.

ABV:  15.4%
Appellation:  Sonoma County
Cases Produced:  20,776
Retail Price:  $21.00
Score:  89

Thursday, May 3, 2012

2008 Truchard Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon

This is the second Cabernet Sauvignon I've tasted from Truchard Vineyards in as many years.  The 2007 was quite tasty, but I think they've dialed it in even more this year and have created a well rounded, flavorful wine that represents the growing region.  The wine is a marriage of three varietals - Cabernet Sauvignon (89%), Cabernet Franc (10%) and Petit Verdot (1%).  The color is reminiscent of very ripe pomegranate with aromas of raspberry, black cherry cola, vanilla, suggestions of tar and cedar shavings.  Smooth and silky on the palate, this wine fills the mouth with flavors of plum, red licorice, red raspberries, sweet wood, spices and vanilla.  Rich and long lasting.  Another winner.

ABV:  14.2%
AVA:  Carneros

Cases Produced:  2,700
Retail Price:  $38.00
Score:  92

Sunday, April 29, 2012

2008 Hollywood & Vine Cellars 2480 Cabernet Sauvignon

This is the second year in a row that I've been fortunate enough to taste this 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from Hollywood & Vine Cellars.  While their packaging may not jump out at you, what is in the glass will get your attention.  Black fruits, chocolate and caramel candies glide effortlessly on the nose.  On the palate is a big, bold California Cab that blends the black fruits, black and red cherries, vanilla, asphalt, flowers and mint.  The wine has incredibly juicy and chewy tannins and a finish that you won't soon forget.  Beautifully balanced and should easily cellar for 10 years.

ABV:  14.7%
AVA:  Napa Valley
Cases Produced:  987
Retail Price:  $80.00
Score:  93

About Hollywood & Vine Cellars:
Many of you have asked us what “2480” means. When he moved to the valley, Doug Barr, one of the winery founders, purchased a piece of property from the estate of Maynard Amerine. The address was “2480”. Mr. Amerine was a pioneer in the California wine industry. An author and professor at UC Davis, he taught many of the most noteworthy names in the American wine business and impacted the art of winemaking world wide. Doug found one of the books Mr. Amerine had written in the old wine cellar. It was that textbook, that got Doug thinking about the challenge of making great wine. Consequently, the numbers on the bottle are a subtle homage to Maynard Amerine, not only for his contributions to the art and science of fine winemaking in general, but also for his inspirational role in the creation of Hollywood and Vine.  H&V is co-owned by bruce Orosz.

2011 Cline Mourvedre Rose

I love a good Rose on a warm weekend day.  I had the opportunity to taste this, paired with some light hors d'oeuvres on just a day recently, and this gorgeous pink wine will satisfy both the white and red wine enthusiasts in your home.  It isn't overly sweet but has a great balance of acidity and fruit that allow it to pair with a wide variety of lighter dishes and become a thirst quencher on a steamy day.  The pink color is stunning with a medium acidity.  Flavors of pomegranante, cherry licorice, and suggestions of ginger all marry well for a well structured and fun wine.

ABV:  13.5%
Appellation:  Contra Costa County
Retail Price:  $14.00
Score:  86

2008 Dry Creek Vineyard The Mariner

Sometimes you get a wine that is so captivating and has so much going on that it is hard to pen a description, fearful that the tasting experience will be lost in translation.  Or, maybe because with this wine, I would rather smile, shake my head, and simply say, "Oh yes, this is amazing".  The 2008 Mariner is a Mertiage wine that encompasses all five Bourdeaux varietals - 48% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 8% Petit Verdot, 6% Malbec and 3% Cabernet Franc.  The aromas in this wine greet you with fragrances of red raspberry, cherry, vanilla, tea leaf and dried earth.  This wine was decanted for about 40 minutes and the aromas and flavors came bounding out of the glass.  The palate was covered with delicious flavors that embody pieces of each of the five wines represented - plum, cherry pie, semi sweet chocolate, coffee bean, spices and even some wisps of lavender.  The tannins are as smooth as glass and this wine is framed beautifully with the balance of structure and flavor.  I'd love to see what this is doing in another few years.  While they are all very good, this is probably my favorite wine from DCV to date!

ABV:  14.5%
AVA:  Dry Creek Valley
Retail Price:  $40.00
Score:  95 

2010 Robert Mondavi Meritage Private Selection

The 2010 Meritage is a blend of four red Bordeaux wines - 42% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 20% Malbec and 8% Petit Verdot.  Dark burgundy in the glass, this wine presents aromas of black cherry, blackberry jam and plum.  It is a medium bodied wine with solid flavors of plum, black cherry, pencil lead and Asian spices.  The wine has memorable fruit flavors and juicy tannins with a mildly oaked background.  The finish is crisp and defined, and for the price point you can't go wrong.  The RMW Private Selection wines are generally considered the entry level in the wine appreciation world, but their quality is consistently very good. This is a great wine for barbeque chicken pizza or burgers on the grill.

ABV:  13.5%
Appellation:  99% Monterey County, 1% Paso Robles
Retail Price:  $11.00
Score:  86

D.R. Stephens Estate DRII Cabernet Sauvignon

Now here's a wine you can sink your teeth into - literally!  The 2009 DRII Cabernet Sauvignon from the D.R. Stephens Estate is a Napa Vally Cab that lives up to the reputation of the area, as well as the winery.  All of my experiences with Stephens have been very positive and this wine is no exception.  Dark purple in the glass with aromas of blackberry, ripe plum, bluberry, oak and cigar wrapper, this wine coats the mouth with chewy micro tannins and flavors of blackberries, blueberry compote, black cherry pipe tobacco and a small dash of black pepper.  The mouth feel is very full and rewarding, and the wine lingers well into the next sip, providing a very memorable and pleasing tasting experience. 

ABV:  14.5%
AVA:  Napa Valley
Retail Price:  $65.00
Score:  93

2010 Artezin Zinfandel Mendocino County

Zinfandel has become increasingly popular in the past few years, and this beautiful wine (in color and taste) is a great example of a varietal worth tasting.  The 2010 Artezin Zinfandel is made of 89% Zinfandel, 10% Petite Sirah and 1% Carignan, blending together effortlessly for a luscious and tasty fruit forward wine with an incredibly gorgeous ruby red color.  On the nose are crushed ripe raspberries, cinnamon, baking spices and black pepper.  On the palate you get the same red raspberries, pomegranate jam, black pepper and hints of cedar planks.  The tannins are on point and allow for a very long finish that is lasting and alluring.  For the Zinfandel fan, you'd be hard pressed to stop at just one or two glasses.  While Zinfandel pairs beautifully with hearty stews and braised meats, this one will be a hit at your summer barbeque.

ABV:  14.5%
Appellation:  Mendocino County
Cases Produced:  12,900
Retail Price:  $18.00
Score:  90

2008 Burgess Cellars Napa Valley Merlot

I love the opportunity to taste so many wines, and I must confess that I've really started appreciating Merlot more in the past 18 months than I have previously.  And when I find a 100% Merlot made this well, it reaffirms my enthusiasm for this juice.  This 2008 Merlot from Burgess Cellars is a dark and stunningly beautiful red wine with fragrant aromas of blueberry pie, black cherry and baking spices.  The wine is instantly mouth watering and the full bodied feel on the mouth is flavorful, juicy and very rich.  There is a bit of a chocolate mint nuance in the mouth and the perfect amount of complimenting oak.  If you've ever doubted Merlot, this would be one that you will appreciate as much as I do.

ABV:  14.4%
AVA:  Napa Valley
Cases Produced:  4,900
Retail Price:  $28.00
Score:  92

2010 Hess Collection Select Chardonnay

The 2010 Hess Select Chardonnay is one of those white wines that I deem a "bargain in a bottle".  The Hess Select collection is a value price series compromised of family-owned estate vineyards and other sources that the Hess folks personally select.  This light golden wine is a fruit forward medium bodied wine with pear, lemon, lime and butter cream frosting on the nose and palate.  Tropical fruit flavors join in the party with hints of light toast to help create a wine that is good solo or with a variety of lighter fare.  I actually paired this with a grilled swiss cheese on rye and found the duo incredibly satisfying.  This is a perfect summertime wine!

ABV:  13.4%
AVA:  Monterey
Retail Price:  $12.00
Score:  87

2010 Hess Allomi Sauvignon Blanc

The Allomi Sauvignon Blan from The Hess Collection is a well balanced and rich, fruity white wine with a medium golden color and green hues.  Grapefruit comes to mind both on the nose and in the mouth.  There are lemongrass undertones along with wild berries and hints of fresh baked bread.  The acidity in this wine restrained, and the wine is a mouth watering example of well made and affordable 100% Sauvignon Blanc.

ABV:  13.5%
AVA:  Napa Valley
Cases Produced:  976
Retail Price:  $16.00
Score:  87